Thursday, October 9, 2008

So close! Job selection...

We had a nice little grind session yesterday and the alt is a mere 10 bars from 70. I expect to have some PvP war stories when I get back from this upcoming long weekend/vacation. My goal is to get to ~1700 with nothing but Rep, AH and craftable gear, buying no PvP honor/arena gear except the 20 resilience PvP trinket (ok, maybe some arena gear if I can get it fast enough). If anything, Shadowform will help me hide my lack of gear and resilience. We'll see if it's possible.

The other goal is to define the two most beneficial professions for Arena/BG PvP with WotLK.

Here's the way I see it (Referencing
Banana Shoulders' info post):

Gathering professions (Herbalism, Mining, Skinning) Not an Option
Both my characters can heal and if a 2k hot is going to make or break my game, I'm doing something wrong. Although, the ground blooming with flowers upon activation is definitely a nice touch. Mining's 500 HP and Skinning's half of a percent of crit rating are equally negligible.

Armor professions (Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring): Largely Uninteresting
-Leatherworking seems to be the least impressive, as the BoP/BoE gear seems to be pretty much replaceable. The bracer enchants are purely stat boosts, as are the leg enchants.
-Blacksmithing doesn't seem to be much of an option either as its primary product isn't usable by either of my classes, so the added sockets would only provide a stat boost. If (and only if) blacksmiths are granted the ability of adding another meta gem, would I consider going that route on either character.
-Tailoring seems as interesting as the other armor professions with the stat boosts from BoP spellthreads, but the two caster cloak enchants do add a bit of RNG to the mix. Darkglow is a mana return proc, a la Insightful Earthstorm Diamond and we've seen the popularity of that meta gem. Lightweave is a damage proc (1-1.2k holy damage) that could either add burst or keep people in combat. It's definitely something to look into.

Gear/ability improvement professions (Enchanting, Jewelcrafting, Inscription, Engineering): Moderately Interesting to Very Interesting
-Enchanting's new claim to fame, aside from the BoP ring enchants, are their upgradeable wands. I can't imagine a wand getting upgraded to the point that it has as much impact as Stormherald has had, and as such, will assume it will maintain its role as a stat stick.
-Jewelcrafting has some new trinkets that look vaguely familiar to the initial set of JC trinkets (i.e. Golden Hare, Jade Owl) in terms of trinket cooldown. I'm assuming later sets of trinkets will have shorter cooldowns and greater effects (ex: Talasite Owl vs Seaspray Albatross). The added gems sockets are nice, especially for meeting meta requirements or to accommodate for lost stats due to use of the JC trinket. The JC only gems are the stat boost that's pretty equivalent to other professions' stat boosts.
-Inscription seems lackluster with scribe only shoulder enchants and offhands. Pure stat boost without much else. Without the rumored extra glyph slot, this profession doesn't have any allure.
-Engineering has its usual array of gadgets and gizmos, but instead of creating specific gear to accomplish a function, its gone all 'enchanting' on us and now provides 'enchants' to gear. Two such 'enchants' stand out for me: Hyperspeed Accelerators (glove) and Nitro Boosts (boots). The Hyperspeed Accelerators provide a 10% haste buff every 2 minutes, which should stack with whatever other passive haste gear you already have. I'm not sure if it will stack with other 'on use' talents or abilities, but even if it doesn't, its a pretty nice boost for both DPS and Healing. The Nitro Boosts aren't as game breaking as the now-banned-from-arena Rocket boots (300% speed increase), but even at a 70% speed boost, matching a sprinting rogue shouldn't be too bad (just hope it doesn't backfire). Hopefully there is going to be a nice caster meta that has run speed built into it.

Other professions (Alchemy) Moderately Interesting
-Alchemy is inherently disadvantaged when talking about the arenas as its primary output is something that isn't allowed. However, the good thing is that WotLK is introducing Endless potions that can be used in the arena. The bad thing, is that they heal or provide mana in such tiny amounts that it's pretty much a joke. 1680-2160 health and/or 400-600 mana back from an Endless potion? Right. Combined with one of the new alchemist stone trinkets and its 40% potion bonus effect, and you're looking at 2352-3024 health and/or 560-840 mana back. Actually, its not bad. But woe is you (unless you're character race is Human) if you want to use any other trinket but the Alchemist stones (i.e. Burst trinkets or Battlemaster's).

So, what are my profession plans?

Well, I intend to keep my Druid as a Jewelcrafter for the money making aspect and for the new trinkets (I actually like the Seaspray Albatross line), but Enchanting doesn't seem to be that big of a draw. I will likely keep Enchanting just for the Disenchanting ability, until I can spot some trends of other top druids. Extra stats may be the key to RestoDruid longevity in WotLK, so 2 stat boosting professions may be the way to go.

My alt Priest will likely keep Tailoring, but most likely drop Jewelcrafting once WotLK hits (I love my Brilliant Glass), upon which she will take Engineering. With Imp Shadowform granting Fade the ability to remove all snares, it's likely that the Nitro Boosts will actually come in handy. If I decide to go healspec, the Hyperspeed Accelerators will help me with Manaburn. Either way, should be fun!

I'm definitely looking forward to the long weekend, and remember to be safe! Don't do anything Columbus wouldn't do. Also, get your Arena games done soon if you're going out of town!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

10 Games a Week

PvP has gotten quite slow around where I am, and even though the end of a season would usually see a flurry of activity, people seem overall fairly burnt out on Arena. My own teams have been relegated to 10 games a week due to work, school and other completely valid reasons. On one hand, I'm glad that I'm getting alot more sleep than in the past, but, on the other hand, I haven't had any exciting nights such as last night when our 3's team burned through some pretty strong and well coordinated teams, sometimes by the skin of our teeth.

One such match was against a strong Warrior/Ret/RestoDruid team with Season 4 weapons that had just taken 13 points from us. They swapped targets quite well and at one point I was down to <1k mana and my Warrior (I run Warrior/EnhShaman/RestoDruid) was down to <500 health. With some lucky dodges/parries and shield block, I had enough time to Innervate myself, stack lifeblooms and cyclone the warrior to allow Mortal Strike to fall off. Amazing luck, indeed! I'll take those 20 points any day!

With my time not being taken up by endless hours of grinding Honor (which I will be doing soon to cap out before WotLK) or grinding rating in the Arenas, my little facemelter alt is now at level 67. Yes, we worked hard over the weekend. I will probably try to grind BG's like crazy on little miss mindflay once I hit 70, but with no gear and no desire to spend honor for gear, she'll be an impressive liability in BG's. It may be a reasonably productive venture to get to honored with all of the BC factions so I have a starter set of craptacular gear just to survive longer than 3 seconds. I apologize in advance to whomever is unlucky enough to be teamed up with her, but I'll try my best! As for right now, she'll stay shadow until level 80 whereupon a decision will be made on her future spec and role.

Most of the spec/role decision depends on comp domination at level 80, which is where I anticipate all of the excitement, theorycrafting and fun will be centered upon. As of right now, at level 70, we know what works and what doesn't work. Why? Because we've been refining strategies and comp make ups for four seasons. However, with level 80, a pseudo gear reset, and a whole slew of new talents, abilities, and in some cases, class redefinitions (zug zug, my new Ret overlords), arenas will be full of turmoil as people adapt and learn. The other aspect of this decision are the various tiers of PvP gear: Savage, Hateful and Deadly. Savage gear will be pretty cheap to acquire and with the spellpower changes, I'll be able to test things out pretty easily.

I am definitely looking foward to the impact of the tiers of PvP gear and I believe that this implementation will give players an alternative method for gearing up. With the reasonable requirements to purchase this gear, ranging from marginal arena/honor points and no rating required to a 2200+ rating requirement, players of all calibers will have something to shoot for. I'm hoping for a renewed interest in the arena, pushing the arena population higher and higher.

On that note, I think the Season 4 rating requirements are a failing point on Blizzard's part due to the average player's inability to hit 1700. With the rating requirements this season, a good percentage of players never got their S4 helm and boots and simply gave up. Let's be realistic here, WoW is a loot centric game and the only way to build the participating population is to dangle the colloquial carrot on a stick in front of their faces. Of course, in this case, the carrot is some shiny purple epic. The failing part of this S4 scenario lies upon the prevalent apathy in the lower brackets. These players, unable to reach that next rating requirement simply gave up their will to participate in the arena. Unfortunately, the rating system, being a zero sum system (theoretically), doesn't benefit from a shrinking population.

By being a zero sum system (theoretically), this means that for every rating point that is won, someone else loses that much rating and rating doesnt just 'dissapear' or 'appear' (although this does happen with creating and deletion of teams). What this also means is that when a whole segement of players stops playing due to apathy or whatever other reason, everything else 'shifts' downward. Fewer <1600 players means that there are fewer points being fed up to the 1600-1800 players, which means that fewer points are being fed up to the 1800+ players. And so on and so forth. It's a pretty vicious cycle, especially on smaller BG's. Hence, the string of Gladiators that seem to be everpresent in the mid 1800's and above. Weren't you guys 2100+ last season? What gives?

Sure, this sounds like a pretty big sloppy QQ from an average player (ok, ok above average), and it is, but I'm glad that Blizzard has recognized this discrepency and has rectified it with Season 5. What's better than a carrot on a stick? Multiple carrots on a stick! I'm also tentatively excited about a blue mentioning a future Personal Rating system that won't go away when you swap teams. Of course, someone's going to figure out a way to beat the system, but it shows that the developers are watching, and that's always a good thing.